For most of stage 3 of the Ladies Tour of Norway, viewers were treated to the same sight: Shannon Malseed (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) plugging away at the front of the race, far from anyone else. The former Australian champion had attacked early on the 125-kilometre stage and rode solo for hours before being reeled in as the race closed in on the finish.
“We planned to be in the early breakaway with either Rebecca (Durrell) or myself and save Anna (Henderson) for the final,” Malseed told Cyclingnews. “It’s always nice to have some company in the breakaway, but today I think the gap went out to over six minutes because I was solo. If there had been others, maybe it wouldn’t have gone out as much. I had fun out there and enjoyed the lovely scenery until about 70 km into the stage when I started to really feel the effort in my legs. I held on and kept pushing for as long as I could.”
Winning from a breakaway is every escapee’s dream, and Malseed said that she entertained the thought – even more so as her advantage continued to grow until the 24-year-old was a whole seven minutes ahead with 55 km to go.
“In my mind, the whole day, I was just visualising winning the stage. I thought I could make it, because anything is possible. When the gap was getting smaller, I just had the goal to make it to the circuits, and I almost got there.”
Even though it was only one rider up the road, the huge time gap eventually spurred the peloton into action. With Mitchelton-Scott, Canyon-SRAM, Trek-Segafredo, and CCC-Liv each committing several riders to the chase, Malseed’s advantage was brought down. She was eventually caught – and passed – by the peloton with just over 15 kilometres to go, four kilometres from the entrance to the finishing circuit in Halden where two ascents to Fredriksten Fortress were to decide the stage, won by Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv).
“When the bunch came past, I had a 100-kilometre solo in my legs. It wasn’t possible for me to hang on, so I was solo again, this time off the back! All in all, it was a really positive day for the team, with Anna finishing 16th on the stage, and we are looking forward to the last day.”